Monday, May 28, 2018

After the Release and My Second Draft Process

My debut novel, The Uninvited Corpse, released on March 27th, and to say it was an amazing day would be an understatement. I was excited, eager, curious, apprehensive and happy. It was Christmas morning, the first day of school and graduation all-wrapped up into one. One of my best days ever.

There was a flurry of activity online thanks to reviews that were posted, my friends shared the with their friends, and my publisher did its thing to promote the release. I made sure to take a trip to my local Barnes & Noble to visit my book. A very proud moment when I saw the book on the shelf with all the other cozies. Truly a dream come true moment.

 Later in the day flowers came. Two deliveries. Both my critique partner and husband sent flowers to celebrate release day. My husband had my cover framed as a gift.

I gave myself a few days to revel in the excitement and celebrate my achievement before I buckled back down to work. I dove into the third book in the Food Blogger mystery series. 

I’ve shared with you the process I went through to write the first draft, and I thought I’d give you a look at my second draft process, which includes a lot of index cards, coffee and a large surface. 


I had set aside the first draft for a couple of weeks to put some distance between me and the story, which allowed me to think about the story. Then printed out the full manuscript, grabbed a stack of index cards and filled my coffee cup to the brim. I settled at the dining room table to work.

I also had a sheet of paper on which I had collected new scene ideas or questions that came up during my break from the manuscript. I transferred that information to index cards. One card per scene, idea or thought.

Next up, I read through the entire manuscript and jotted down a one-to-two sentence recap of every scene. When I was done I had about 60 index cards filled out.

This took pretty much an entire day, so I waited until the next day to continue. The next stage was to “lay out the book” and for that—aside from more coffee—I needed the original outline of the manuscript, and the index cards. I used my kitchen island. Having a big island comes in handy at Christmas for cookie baking and for plotting books. I set out each index card and spent as much time as needed to make sure the story flows and the timeline is right. That’s why I have the original outline with me so I can make notes about the new scenes and the original scenes that need to be tweaked.

Once the story order is set, I number each index card, gather them up and take them to a comfortable spot and flip through them one more time.

When I’m satisfied with the flow of the story, I take the cards and the outline back to my desk and begin working on the manuscript.

In the second draft I’ll flesh out the scenes. They’re pretty lean in the first draft phase when I concentrate on the story. I interject material for character, better description and tighter dialogue. 

After I revise a chapter, I print it out and read and edit and make changes in the document. Once I’m satisfied, I send the chapter to my critique partner. When the chapter comes back with her comments, I save it and don’t look at it until I’m completed with my second draft and ready for round three.

There you have it, my second draft process. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s overwhelming, sometimes it’s frustrating, but it’s all worth it to get to a finished book. 

What does your revision process look like?


Grace Topping said...

Congratulations, Debra. Such exciting times for you. I hope the release is the first of many.

Kait said...

Oh, Debra, congratulations! What a thrill. Remember to enjoy every second of your first book release. It is special.

One thought popped to mind - you don't have cats. OK, back to reality.

I love your process. Mine is somewhat similar but I use Scrivener and I just learned a great trick. I can color code the index cards - now tell me that's not fabulous. So my must have scenes are red tinted, my red herrings are blue and their resolutions (and they dang well better agree in number) are yellow. And yes, one or two sentences - or a note about a plot hole or a missed stitch.

carla said...

I wish I was as well organized as you! My revision process is a diving in. How can I deepen what's happening? What other layers are needed? And lord, do I ever fix narrative, starting with the basics: word search repeated words!!!

Gloria Alden said...

Congratulations, Debra. I review my chapters and make any changes I need to make and then print it out and send it to my two critique partners and when they send their comments or edits, I mark them in the printed out chapter to make changes.

Annette said...

Congratulations, Debra! What a thrill! I do a lot of revising as I go on the first draft. I do my outline in Scrivener, so my index cards are virtual, but otherwise, much the same as yours. My critique group gets 50 pages at a time and I tinker with those pages as much as time allows before sending them, then more tinkering after we meet to discuss them. By the time I get around to a "second" draft, it's more like a FOURTH draft.

KM Rockwood said...

How exciting!

Thanks for the insight on your revision process. I'm afraid I'm not that organized.